Lauterborn Blog Search

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Ordinance Curbs Chair Set-up before Memorial Day Parade

New Ordinance Curbs Chair Set-up before Memorial Day Parade:
Most obey guidelines 
along parade route
By Mike Lauterborn
(Posted to 5/29)
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Per a new town ordinance, 10 a.m. Sunday was the official time after which people were permitted to set out their chairs and blankets curbside to watch the Memorial Day parade, set to commence exactly 24 hours later, Monday morning. Though a Patch tour of the Old Post Road found more than two dozen individual set-ups already established by that time, most of these had just been placed on Saturday. In recent years past, it was not uncommon to see equipment set up days – even a week – in advance, so it was clear the new rules had registered. As Sunday morning ticked away, vans and cars started to pull up and unload, staking claim to coveted plots.

Gay Gasser, a resident at 740 Old Post Road, said the ordinance was a good one but mostly because it gave her a chance to get some yard maintenance done. “It gave me the opportunity to get the lawn mowed,” she said. “With chairs there, I can’t do it. I also don’t like the tarps there for long, as they kill the grass. When we first moved here, in May 1985, I’d wake up the kids at 6:30 on Memorial Day morning to put our chairs out. As the years went by, other people swooped in to take the space. That’s really o.k. as we’ve got the driveway, but last year it got ridiculous, with stuff going up over a week in advance.”

Gasser added, “I can see it for the older folks, putting chairs out, or for little kids, but a day before, not a week before.”

Just pulling up to place her chairs, Fairfielder Kathy Fish said her husband may have initiated the chair-placing tradition. “David, who passed six years ago, started putting chairs out in advance about 20 years ago,” she said. “He would have all our neighbors, friends and relatives drop their chairs and blankets at our house a week in advance. We didn’t know whose stuff was whose. On the day of the parade, he would wake up at 5 a.m. and bring everyone’s chairs down here. It was a big family thing. People picked up on it but, over the years, just started coming earlier and earlier.”

Fairfielder Lynn Olins was surprised to see many chairs already set up when she pulled up just after 10 a.m. to stake her claim in front of St. Paul’s Church. “We’ve been doing this for years,” she said. “Our family always has kids that march in the parade, so we like to get a good view. I thought the ordinance was fine.”

Just establishing their own plot, the Atkins Family, who declined to give first names, also thought the ordinance was worthwhile. “If I lived along here, I’d probably get irritated with chairs being set up for days and days in advance,” said one of the family members. “We read about a month ago about the new rules and planned to come down here this morning. We found a great spot.”

The Strazar Family, of Stony Creek, CT, was o.k. with the new guidelines as well, and looked forward to the parade experience. “We raised our kids in Fairfield and marched in it for years,” said Elizabeth Strazar. “My mom’s still here and this is the first time we’ve come back in 10 years. We were planning on coming here tomorrow morning at 7 to set up, but my mom said that people were already setting up and suggested we rush down. This is a good thing as it makes the process more democratic, as everyone is setting up in the same window.”

Offering a contrasting view, Tom Brennan, the homeowner at 970 Old Post Road, thought the new ordinance was silly and a waste of money. “It’s the most ridiculous, asinine law that has been passed in the 25 years that I’ve lived here,” he said. “I have a 200-foot frontage on the Old Post, which is filled every year with friends and total strangers. Some of those total strangers have become friends. We’re asking the taxpayer to pay for the police to enforce the regulation and the town to pay for the ridiculous signs that say people can’t do it, while in a fiscal crisis with taxes out of control. All this parade does is bring smiles to everyone’s faces.”

Among the new friendships Brennan forged over the years were two couples that started showing up about 14 years ago. “They now have 14-year-old children and still continue to come here,” he said. “My house is always open for coffee and donuts.”

As Brennan returned to a yard chore, his granddaughter Ella, 5, mentioned that, this year, they would be setting up a lemonade stand out front, to raise money for Relay for Life. The stand honors Ella’s uncle Ryan, who lost his battle with cancer February 28.

Sea Memorial Ceremony Pays Tribute to Those Lost at Sea

Sea Memorial Ceremony Pays Tribute to Those Lost at Sea:
Dignitaries, veterans and citizens flock to South Benson Marina
By Mike Lauterborn
(Posted to
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – It was a multi-faceted occasion and a highlight of the area’s Memorial Day weekend celebration.

Held Saturday morning at South Benson Marina, the Sea Memorial Ceremony, coordinated by National Association of Naval Veterans (NANV) Chaplain Dave Russell and facilitated by both town departments and various veterans and active military organizations, paid tribute to servicemen from all branches of the military that lost their lives at sea.

The event commenced at 9:30 a.m. at the entry to the marina, with a raising of the American flag at the toll house. In the presence of assembled V.F.W., American Legion and Disabled Veterans, Joe Bender, a local V.F.W. commander, said, “We are assembled to express sincere reverence and gratitude to those who served our country and gave their life both on the land and sea.”

While the Fairfield Gaelic Pipe Band played “Amazing Grace”, the flag was hoisted up the pole to half-mast by two members of Boy Scouts Troop 82. Fellow troop members stood in formation nearby, joined by State Representative Tony Hwang.

All gathered then strolled to the Gas Dock to join a larger crowd that included town dignitaries, veterans, active servicemen and Coast Guard members from New Haven. Among the crowd was Acting First Selectman Sherri Steeneck, Selectman James Walsh, Town Clerk Betsy Brown, Judge Daniel Caruso, Senator John McKinney, Police Chief Gary McNamara, Fire Chief Dick Felner, Former Police Chief Joe Sambrook, State Representative Brenda Kupchick, State Representative Kim Fawcett, Congressman Jim Himes and U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman.

Looking on with great respect, Felner said, “I’m proud to be here. I was in the Marine Corps and admire the veterans. If it wasn’t for all these old timers, we wouldn’t be here today. Dave Russell should be commended.”

As servicemen representing the Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Merchant Marines stood in line along the dock, Captain Roger Crossland, U.S. Naval Reserve (Ret.), stood atop the bow of the Tea Totaler, one of three private yachts and a Coast Guard patrol boat moored there, and addressed the crowd, which lined the bank of the inlet by the bait shack. Crossland, dressed in a white uniform with abundant medals on the breast pocket, welcomed both veterans and active duty soldiers that had recently returned from Afghanistan.

“This is a Fairfield tradition in keeping with a long maritime tradition,” said Crossland. “We remember those resting and those in watery graves without a marker. We are here to honor, not to grieve.”

Commander of NANV’s Port 5 local chapter and Master Chief for the Ceremony, Richard Iannucci took roll call from all the groups then Chaplain Frank Wismer offered a Sea Service Prayer, expanding upon Crossland’s remarks. “We gather to honor those whose sacrifice and courage through military service has secured the ideals upon which our nation is founded,” he said.

Wismer’s prayer was followed by Fairfield Ludlowe High School Chorale students’ rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” and then a symbolic recognition of veterans of foreign wars and conflicts wherein attending veterans of those campaigns stepped forward and saluted on behalf of their fellow comrades.

A reading of the names of local veterans that “passed on to their final reward” ensued, accented by the toll of a bell as each name was introduced.

Trumbull resident and Annapolis graduate Edward C. Lovely then spoke about Commodore John Barry and the efforts of the Fairfield Hibernians to spur Congress to have the Irish-born navy man officially recognized as the first commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. “In the space of 58 years, he rose from a humble cabin boy to senior commander of the entire United States fleet,” he said. “He fought the first and last battles of the Revolutionary War.”

After the Piper Band performed an encore of “Amazing Grace”, Korean War naval veteran Phil Sera and Dave Schultz, son of late Merchant Marine Ed Schultz, tossed overboard from the stern of the moored Hideway a ceremonial wreath. This rite was briefly delayed due to veteran Frank Slovenski, who was standing amongst veterans along the dock, suffering heat stroke. Slovenski was removed on a gurney by medical personnel.

The dockside ceremony concluded with the firing of three rounds from rifles toted by a quartet of V.F.W. veterans, the playing of Taps by buglers Steve Smith and John Convertito, a second chorale group number and the awarding of plaques to Iannucci and Crossland for their support of the event.

Though the Ceremony had officially ended, a flotilla of six watercraft, including the four moored boats dockside along with Fairfield Marine Police and Coast Guard Auxiliary, motored out into the fog-obscured Sound to drop and set adrift the wreath that had earlier been released but retrieved.